Chicago un-education system

On Wednesday the Chicago Board of Education voted to shutter 49 elementary schools and one high school — the largest public school closings in the nation’s history.

Only four schools were spared from the chopping block, including George Manierre Elementary School on the Near North Side.

Located near the former site of the notorious Cabrini-Green projects, Manierre was taken off the list after parents, teachers and students warned that sending students to nearby Jenner Academy would force students to cross gang borders.

On Monday I offered a few thoughts on the CPS plan to close schools mostly in the city’s poor, black and Latino neighborhoods.

Mayor Emanuel is promoting the closings as a possible cure for what ails Chicago’s education system. Most Chicagoans, however — at least the ones I know — view the closing of 50 schools in disenfranchised communities as throwing salt on an already gangrenous wound.

Please, Mr. Mayor, don’t “fix” anything else.


“Look, honey! A crack whore!”

On the topic of kicking poor people while they’re down, Real Bronx Tours has decided to end its “ghetto tours” after a massive backlash from members of the community.

I don’t see the big deal. America’s treated poor people of color like animals for centuries, so it’s only natural that well-to-do Manhattanites would take a safari through the Bronx to see its natural wildlife up close.

If you rich Chicagoans start touring through Humboldt Park, please, no flash photography.


Deformed reform

The Senate’s immigration reform bill passed its first milestone on Tuesday night when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the bill to the Senate floor as early as next month.

Notably, the committee passed the bill without adding a provision recognizing same-sex partners. Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sponsored the amendment, but when Republicans threatened to withdraw their support for the bill, some Democrats also began indicating that they wouldn’t support an amendment that jeopardized bipartisanship.

Even if the bill passes the Senate next month, immigration reform still faces the seemingly impossible task of getting by a House of Representatives dominated by far-right conservatives — you know, the kind that hate “feriners.”

During a immigration hearing on Wednesday, nativist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tweeted his outrage at the number of undocumented immigrants present.

King talks as though he never wants to enjoy a decent, untampered meal at a restaurant ever again.


The Obama Doctrine

On Thursday, in a momentous address delivered at National Defense University, Pres. Obama outlined his military policy, including the use of drones.

Since he came into office, progressives and members of his own party have criticized the president for his failure to steer the country away from Pres. Bush’s foreign policy, which involved preemptive strikes and regime change, all undertaken unilaterally. For a while it was difficult for most Obama supporters to effectively distinguish between what Bush did around the world and what Obama’s doing — there are still two wars, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and increased drone strikes.

And just one day before Obama’s speech, his administration admitted to killing four Americans in drone strikes, one of whom was intentionally targeted.

Yet, despite the detractors, Obama convincingly explained how the Obama Doctrine is different from that of his predecessor. According to the president, the new policy involves “leading from behind” (which we saw in Libya), limiting the number of drone strikes to current security threats located in remote places, the use of foreign aid “creating reservoirs of goodwill that marginalize extremists,” and putting American troops on the ground as a last resort.

“History will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it,” the president said about Gitmo:

“Imagine a future – ten years from now, or twenty years from now – when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country. Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?”

The viral moment came when a Code Pink member interrupted the president during his talk on closing Gitmo, though I thought the president cleverly utilized her outburst to underscore the essence of his policy shift:

(Watch the full speech, or read the transcript)

In all, it was a stirring rebuke of the Bush Doctrine that the president delivered on Thursday, one that will be analyzed for years to come.

Yet, his supporters have always known that he president higher principles on foreign policy than his predecessor did. But, as everything is with this president, they’ll wait to see if his actions match his rhetoric.


[Photo: Medill DC via Flickr]

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